14 September 2008


David Foster Wallace

It seems that he hanged himself.

He wrote with brio and heart, and if his stylistic pyrotechnics were occasionally a bit much2 he never indulged in them at the expense of actual content and meaning. Laura Miller at Salon offers a touching remembrance.

He wrote about the maddening impossibility of scrutinizing yourself without also scrutinizing yourself scrutinizing yourself and so on, ad infinitum, a vertiginous spiral of narcissism — because not even the most merciless self-examination can ignore the probability that you are simultaneously congratulating yourself for your soul-searching, that you are posing. He tried so hard to be sincere and to attend to the world around him because he was excruciatingly aware of how often we are merely “sincere” and “attentive” and all too willing to leave it at that.

I, for one, will miss his work.

  1. Though he is perhaps more properly remembered as a novelist and occasional writer of short stories, my own love for his work was instead for his essaysa, which obviously consumed so much of his attention that I wonder if the fiction was not, in fact, to some extent an attempt to bolster the literary respectability of his non-fiction writing.
  2. Most famously in his vigorous and whimsical overuse of footnotes.
  1. The first work of his I read, a very long essay in Vanity Fair about the politics within the world of professional tennis which almost frightened me by being so fascinating in spite of being so very far outside my usual sphere of interest.

1 comment:

thorn said...

From the Onion: